THE DEEP PLACE :: A Lindsay Branham & Andrew Ellis short film

CHOSEN BY SIPHIWE MYEZA-MHLAMBI (S.J.)

My favourite brand film at the moment is a film that was done for IJM (International Justice Mission). The film is called The Deep Place  - directed by Lindsay Branham and Andrew Michael Ellis.

"One small boy. One huge lake. Foli was a slave. Immerse yourself in his story. Thousands of children between the ages of 6 and 18 live in slavery on Lake Volta, working up to 18 hours a day in the fishing industry. For these young children, the only way out of slavery is to drown or be rescued. Children just like Foli.* Visit ijm.org/foli to send rescue today.”

I have a deep love for the film craft and the sincerity and reality of documentary storytelling. I truly believe that truth is stranger than fiction.

My roster of favourite films includes the likes of Blood Diamond, Yesterday, Crash, Philadelphia, Last King of Scotland and Moonlight, to name a few.

The most common thing in these films is that they are based on true events and are told in an honest social commentary manner.

For this reason, I think The Deep Place is outstanding. It marries documentary and cinematic treatment in a mesmerising way… adding to a growing genre of branded film that I have fallen in love with.

The story is handled with such delicacy, insight and narrative wisdom. You have a feeling of where the story is going but they play on human assumption and narrative stereotype to misguide you.

They told a feature length story in a few minutes, but it didn’t feel rushed. There was enough room to grow, enough breaks between dialogue and silence to let the narrative sink in. That is a tough feat to pull off.

The cinematic treatment is sublime and so well thought out. The shot selection – particularly the use of closed and open frame – the use of centre framing and juxtaposition between close ups and epic wides make the story epic yet personal.

The narrative doesn’t feel contrived. The biggest merit I could give this film and the filmmakers is the level of sincerity and respect this narrative was treated.

That's what I always aspire to do with any narrative I am fortunate to inherit. When I saw this film, I was doing research for a spot I was pitching on at the time. I was very frustrated because research is frustrating, ha ha. On my breaks I do leisure watching (to ignite the creative juices ). I then came across this film and went from uninspired to fired up.

It made me feel sad that this is happening; at the same time happy that this was a story of victory. I related and immensely respect the protagonist.

As a filmmaker, I got reminded as to why I do what I do… the opportunity to make such impactful films.

I believe one of Africa’s remaining great minerals is our stories and that too is being mined by non-Africans, which disheartens me in a way. This film was told by a non–African, but give credit where credit is due.

The stories are here and in abundance. Honestly I think the major difference between the curation of African stories is the level of education and ability – not talent.

There are a lot of narratives like this told by Africans, but the amount of resources and education lacks and these stories fall flat because of that. I do think there needs to be a more deliberate attempt to back black African filmmakers to tell their stories.

This was a brilliant film but it should have been told by a Ghanaian, an African at least. You can't teach talent, but without the resources and support African talent will not see the light of day. Like our gold and and diamonds, foreigners will come mine it and sell it back to us. That is a real shame.

I'm not taking away from these creators; they did a stellar job. Let's learn from them and do it better, then African content will rocket to unimaginable heights.

This film to me was an education into craft and I am fortunate to have the privilege to access it. Let's fight to broaden this access.

ABOUT SIPHIWE MYEZA-MHLAMBI (S.J.)

Siphiwe Myeza-Mhlambi (S.J.) had a dream start to his career, winning a Gold Loerie Award in 2016 at just 22 for Surf Shack Chasing The Dragon, which went on to win Gold at Cannes Lions in 2017 and the Young Guns Creative Choice Award, among other accolades. 

SJ joined 7Films fresh from film school and is now a majority share holder, playing a key role in making them the second-highest-ranked production company at the 2017 Loerie Awards.   

'THE DEEP PLACE' AWARDS

:: Public Service & Activism honouree, Webby Awards, 2018
:: Silver: Cinematography, Clios, 2018
:: Vimeo Staff Pick
:: Golden Eagle Award, Scripted: Live Action - Short, CineEagle, 2018

CREW

:: Directors: Lindsay Branham & Andrew Michael Ellis
:: Production Company: Novo
:: Editor: Ben Stamper
:: Cinematography: Andrew Ellis & Ben Stamper
:: Original Music: Aled Roberts
:: Casting: Mawuko Kuadzi
:: Field Producers: Greg & Amy Justice
:: Script Supervisor: Bethany Williams
:: Production Sound: Greg Justice
:: Stunt Supervision: Hayford Agbedor
:: Visual Effects: Perry Kroll
:: Color Correction: Alter Ego
:: Executive producers: International Justice Mission

CAST

:: Foli: Louis Baah Yeboah
:: Fofo: Godwin Duse
:: Uncle: Brian Angels
:: Grandfather: Isaac Afako